Smart Solutions: Bring the outside in with classic Great Lakes theme

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
A shower curtain with a beachy feel can make your space reminiscent of an outdoor setting.

Take it from someone who’s been burned before: You can have too much fun in the sun. That’s why it can’t hurt to take your outdoor activities inside with accents that reflect a few of your favorite pastimes.

Since waterfront living is part of the charm in the Great Lakes State, it’s easy to play up this theme in your home for the season. For instance, life preservers act as art when arranged on the wall, whether you choose vintage or new varieties.

The same goes for bathing suits that can be framed for display. If older styles are hard to come by, try a cute kids’ swimsuit for a similar effect. Prop a pair of oars on the floor in a nearby corner or install them on the wall as a reminder of time spent at the lake.

Wooden ships also make a classic statement, which makes me realize my wooden boat with oars should come out of storage. It once held mints for guests to grab on their way out like a restaurant.

Al fresco meals are another way to savor the season and picnic baskets happen to be perfect for storage and décor. I have two that I plan to display including a vintage one given to me years ago and another that a friend filled with gifts for my baby shower.

One will be packed with supplies and ready to go for the next time we eat outside, whether it’s an impromptu potluck at the swim club or a picnic at a scenic park.

When the sun goes down, the bugs come out to feast on me, which is why I like to watch the local fireworks from the comfort of my home. This reminds me of the stargazing activities happening near my house and the telescope I have that should be more accessible.   

Accents that sport a nautical theme like this rope mirror convey a summertime feel inside your home.

For those who like to sit back and watch nature or the neighbors, Adirondack chairs remain a classic choice for your front porch or your backyard. Miniature replicas, like the picture frames or candleholders that feature this iconic shape, can fill your rooms as a symbol of outdoor lounging.

Avid birdwatchers might add some unique birdhouses to indoor living spaces to honor these intriguing creatures. Available in a variety of materials, these popular pieces include those made from license plates to styles covered with stones.

Nothing says summer more than lawn games like cornhole that can be played inside on a rainy day. Your favorite recreational components can also be displayed in creative ways like a wooden bowl filled with croquet balls. 

Summer sports like tennis include classic equipment, such as the attractive racquets from the past that can often be found at flea markets and antiques stores. Arrange them in a tall container or hang them in a game room where you can fill a glass jar with tennis balls that feature the sunny shade of the season.

Lastly, a series of photos that showcase your cherished time spent outside can lend a decorative element to your environment and serve as a visual tribute to the sweet days of summer.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at